NASA pays 1 USD to the winning company to collect Moon rocks

NASA will pay to a startup that just won a contract to collect material on the Moon’s surface.

NASA pays 1 USD to the winning company to collect Moon rocks
NASA is implementing a government policy to allow organizations and individuals to collect and use resources from space . Photo: BBC

The US space agency (NASA) will pay a symbolic price of only 1 USD to Lunar Outpost to conduct a small collection of lunar dust on its behalf.

According to CNBC, the Colorado-based startup Lunar Outpost (USA) has bid 1 USD and won the contract to complete a mission as part of the low-cost lunar resource collection program, newly announced by NASA. early 2020.

NASA wants to pay companies to collect individual collections of lunar soil, weighing between 50 and 500 grams. The agency makes it clear that it only pays companies to collect material and says it can be found on the surface of the Moon, not to hire them to develop spacecraft or deliver the entire surface soil. Moon to Earth.

Lunar Outpost is one of three companies selected by NASA in the tender on December 3 (local time). The other two winners are Masten Space System in California, responsible for the ,000 mission in 2023, and iSpace Company (in Tokyo), which will carry out two ,000 collection missions in 2020. 2022 and 2023.

“These companies will collect samples, then provide us with real evidence and other data that they were collected. Then, the owner will turn in, so we can collect those samples,” NASA Deputy CEO Mike Gold told reporters during a press conference after the bidding. “The goals of these gathering missions are twofold: To establish an important policy and precedent, involving both the mobilization of space resources, and to expand the public-private partnership beyond orbit the Earth up to the Moon,” Gold added.

NASA has asked parties to bypass the starting price range of $ 15,000-25,000 per package, with a maximum limit of $ 250,000. Prizes for the three companies will be paid out according to a 3-step process: 10% of funds at the time of awarding; 10% when the launch company collects their soil and 80% when NASA assesses the material the company collects.

NASA pays 1 USD to the winning company to collect Moon rocks

“Is NASA going to tear the check for just 10 cents for the Lunar Outpost. The answer is yes,” said NASA’s Director of Commercial Flights, Phil McAlister. Mr. McAlister explained that Lunar Outpost could bid because the company already plans to collect material from the Moon, so separating a small amount for NASA “is practically insignificant.”

NASA said Lunar Outpost will conduct a flight along with the mission made by billionaire Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin to the South pole of the Moon in 2023. However, Blue Origin told CNBC that this information. is incorrect. For his part, Lunar Outpost CEO Justin Cyrus explained that his company is in talks with Blue Origins and several other companies to fly to the Moon. “We are negotiating with various types of landers… but we have not made a final decision on any of them. Blue Origin makes a space vehicle, but we’re not obligated to use any specific lander under the contract.”

NASA has received 22 proposals for a Moon sample collection mission from at least 16 companies, some of which have bid multiple times. Although NASA declined to specify which companies were not selected, McAlister explained that some bids exceeded the agency’s costs.

The announcement of NASA’s winning bid comes after President Donald Trump issued an executive order earlier this year requiring the United States to seek international support for a policy that allows organizations and individuals to collect and use resources from space. Trump’s executive order reaffirms a decision made by Congress in 2015 to grant individuals and entities in the United States the “right to engage in commercial exploration, restoration, and resource utilization activities.” in the universe”.

In addition, NASA’s announcement on December 3 comes as China has launched its own mission to collect lunar soil samples. Currently, China’s Chang’e 5 spacecraft is on its way back to Earth carrying samples from the Moon. The spacecraft was successfully launched on November 24 and this is the return to the Moon to collect the first sample of a country on Earth since 1976.